MCALLEN, Texas — U.S. Border Patrol officials opened the doors of a Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector processing center to journalists on Sunday. The media tour provided journalists with information about the ongoing situation at the border and the debate surrounding a policy called Zero-Tolerance.
“The only ones benefitting from the current situation at the border are the criminal organizations,” RGV Sector Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla said during the media tour. The event for the media was immediately followed by a similar tour for numerous congressmen who traveled to the center. Close to a hundred protesters welcomed the protesters. No cameras or electronic devices were allowed during the tour.
Just before the tour, Padilla presented a somber picture of the challenges currently being faced at the border where criminal organizations continue to risk the lives of unsuspecting migrants in order to make a profit. By criminal organizations, Padilla was referring to the Gulf Cartel that controls the cities immediately south of his sector and other Mexican cartels that in some cases make as much money from human smuggling as they do from drug trafficking. Some of the cartels charge approximately $300 per person for the right just to cross the river. According to Padilla, that fee, commonly known as “Piso” is only for access to the Rio Grande and is separate from any arrangement the individual has with human smugglers.
According to Padilla, many of the current problems stem from a trend that developed when the government did not go after certain groups of illegal immigrants. This created a magnet for migrants that led to the current problem facing the agency when dealing with children and families at the border. Under the new executive order commonly called Zero Tolerance, authorities are forced to prosecute everyone. This creates a consequence for breaking the law where there wasn’t one before, Chief Padilla said. The real change to the volatile situation at the border will have to come from the U.S. Congress choosing to act on immigration legislation to close the loopholes that created the problem, Padilla said.
Padilla said that the family separations take place when the individual that was detained by Border Patrol is taken before a judge. This is similar to the cases where a U.S. citizen is arrested for a crime by authorities while they have their child with them.
Since the executive order has been implemented, the RGV sector has had 600 prosecutions where families have been separated so the parent can go through the court system, the chief said. The families are not being separated in the field or at the river as some have claimed. They are only being separated when the parent is taken before a judge, he said.
During the tour, members of the media saw the detention pods where the unaccompanied children and the family units are held for up to 72 hours until they are processed and turned over to the corresponding agency.
The transparency provided by the RGV Sector with this media tour stands in sharp contrast to the 2014 unaccompanied minor crisis when the Obama Administration attempted to downplay the magnitude of the crisis.
Breitbart Texas shocked the world on June 5, 2014, when it published leaked images of unaccompanied minors warehoused in the RGV Sector in overcrowded conditions. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of UACs and FMUAs have crossed the border illegally into South Texas.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and Stephen K. Bannon. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.